BetVictor Isthmian Premier – Wednesday 2nd October, 2019
Cray Wanderers 3
Coker 20, Taylor 28, Carlse 31
Bowers & Pitsea 1
Warner 64 pen
Cray Wanderers extended their unbeaten to ten matches in league and cup after victory against Bowers & Pitsea in a first ever league meeting between the sides at Hayes Lane.
Cray who moved up to ninth in the Isthmian Premier table won the game with three clinically taken goals in a eleven spell in the first half as Andre Coker, Joe Taylor and Tom Carlse finished explosively to turn what promised to be a tight game on its head. Bowers & Pitsea had much the better of the second half and pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through Bradley Warner. Despite Cray losing skipper Barney Williams with a sending off eight minutes from time, the Wands did enough to win their third league game of the season and move on to 14 points.
On a very chilly but thankfully dry night, there were two changes to the Cray Wanderers lineup from the side which drew with East Thurrock United on Saturday with Lee Lewis coming in for Ben Mundele while Geofrey Okonkwo replaced Mitchell Nelson who didn’t recover sufficiently from the knock which forced him off in that game. Bowers & Pitsea were 18th coming into the game but had started the season well and like Cray are still involved in the FA Cup at the weekend.
It looked like being another thrilling evening’s entertainment at the Lane and both Championship winning sides from last season looked to get off to a bright start. Bowers & Pitsea threatened from an early throw in down the left and the ball into the box was flicked off target by James Thomas.
Cray though created the first real opening of the game in the 4th minute when the hugely impressive Tom Carlse down the left tore down the wing and put over a cross which was fired over the top by Joe Taylor from 14 yards.
From here though, it was Bowers & Pitsea who had a good spell and shaded the opening quarter of an hour. Firstly the ball was worked down the left and a ball into the box from Bradley Warner found Quentin Monville whose near post shot was well blocked by Lewis Carey for a corner.
Then, Bowers & Pitsea broke away from a Cray attack with Monville again taking a pass from Warner, this time down the right and his shot was well pushed out once again by Carey at the expense of a corner.
This was followed in the 13th minute with a let off for Cray when a ball in to the box from Warner was met by the head of Lewis Manor but his header came back off the left post and back out into play.
Cray though were starting to get their game going and after a neat passing move, Carlse put over a superb cross which no-one could get on the end of.
However, Cray were not to be denied long and in the 20th minute, took the lead with a fine goal when Barney Williams switched the play superbly out from the right to the left with a terrific pass out to Tom Murphy who whipped over a great ball into the box which was cleared partially by a defender out to Andre Coker on the right edge of the penalty area who hit a curling shot which flew past keeper Callum Chafer and into the top left corner.
After that difficult opening Cray were now beginning to get on top and Bradley Pritchard set up Williams who drove a shot over the bar.
There was a blow for the visitors when Thomas Stephen had to go off following a knock to the head in the 26th minute and was replaced by Joseph Gardner.
Two minutes later Cray went two nil up with another great goal which again stemmed down the left hand side. Harry Hudson played a ball forward to Carlse who accelerated down the line and sent over a cross to the edge of the area to Taylor who despatched a powerful first time shot which gave Chafer no chance and Cray had a bit of daylight before half an hour.
In the 31st minute it got even better when defensive hesitancy at the back saw Pritchard rob a defender inside the area and following up was Carlse who tucked home a tidy finish from 10 yards for his first goal of the season and Cray capped off a devastating spell of attacking football to lead 3-0.
Bowers & Pitsea almost got back into it when from one of numerous corners won during the game a ball into the box from Warner was met by the head of Manor but went straight to Carey from 8 yards.
The remainder of the half saw Cray fairly comfortable and despite three minutes of added on time were able to see in the break with a three goal lead without perhaps playing at their very best.
Half Time: 3-0
The temperature seemed to dip during the second half and after being on top before the break the second half saw Bowers & Pitsea come into the game and won a handful of corners which Cray were able to repel. Bowers & Pitsea were presented with a free kick in a good position 20 yards from goal and from the free kick Warner drove a shot wide.
Cray almost broke out and scored a fourth when Coker did well down the left to find space to send over a cross towards the far post where Taylor glanced the ball wide of the right post.
Bowers & Pitsea were beginning to exert pressure and following another corner, the ball was flicked on by Callum Leahy and out to Gardner who hooked an effort over the top. Then from another corner from the right the ball came to Manor whose goalbound strike was deflected behind for another corner.
Bowers & Pitsea were presented with a chance to pull a goal back in the 64th minute when they were awarded a penalty when down the left Manor found Gardner who just inside the box was brought down by Williams. From the spot kick, Warner who had a good game throughout stroked home the penalty to make it 3-1.
Cray had a better spell after the goal but couldn’t find the fluency of the first half and Bowers & Pitsea kept coming forward looking for another goal and almost got one when Warner found the unlucky Monville who down the right of the area smashed a well struck shot against the top of the right post.
The Wands almost got a fourth goal when Jerome Federico found Bradley Pritchard down the right and his ball across was diverted goalwards by Murphy but Chafer did well to claim the ball on the line.
In the 82nd minute Cray were reduced to ten men when skipper Barney Williams who had been booked in the first half was shown a second yellow card for bringing down David Knight down the left and Cray had to batten down the hatches for the remainder of the game. From the free kick the ball into the air was hooked off target by Knight.
Cray almost broke out to score when Federico who made a lively appearance for the last twenty minutes again combined well with Pritchard to set up Taylor for a well hit shot which again well held by Chafer.
Bowers & Pitsea almost grabbed another goal when from a throw in the ball dropped to Monville whose dipping drive down the left crashed back off the post to make it three times they had hit the woodwork during the game.
Cray though had shown enough quality in defence to hold out and the last chance for Bowers & Pitsea came to Thomas who saw a shot which was deflected over the top for a corner but despite a lot of pressure in the second half Cray had done enough for the three points and to keep their good run going.
The general consensus was that this was maybe not one of Cray’s better performances but the sign of a good side is when they rack up wins when maybe not at their best and the eleven minute spell where the three goals were scored was vintage Cray Wanderers and took their chances with great style with perhaps not their full strength side. Bowers & Pitsea showed enough resolve to suggest they will pick up sufficient points during their first ever season at this level.
Cray now look on Saturday to reach the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round for only the second time at Haringey Borough and travel to North London in good heart and full of confidence.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Geofrey Okonkwo, Harry Hudson, Bradley Pritchard, Lee Lewis (Charles Etumnu, 79), Andre Coker (Jerome Federico, 71), Karl Dent (Charlie Allen, 66), Tom Murphy, Joe Taylor: Subs: Freddie Parker, Grant Hall
Sent Off: Williams 82
Booked: Williams, Dent, Carey
Bowers & Pitsea: Callum Chafer, Ryan Sammons, Thomas Stephen (Joseph Gardner, 26), Max Cornhill, Kenzer Lee, Callum Leahy, Quentin Monville, Benjamin Sartain (David Knight, 68), Lewis Manor, Bradley Warner, James Thomas: Subs: Martyn Stokes, Luke McCoy, Tyrone Baker
Referee: Neil West
Assistants: Adam Miller, Michael Scott
Attendance – 135